Learning More About Sickle Cell
Dr. Mustapha rashid
Specialist Family Medicine
SCD is a group of inherited red blood cell disorders. Healthy red blood cells are round, and they move through small blood vessels to carry oxygen to all parts of the body. In someone who has SCD, the red blood cells become hard and sticky and look like a C-shaped farm tool called a “sickle”. The sickle cells die early, which causes a constant shortage of red blood cells. Also, when they travel through small blood vessels, they get stuck and clog the blood flow. This can cause pain and other serious problems such infection, acute chest syndrome and stroke. Sickle cell anemia is one of a group of disorders known as sickle cell disease. Sickle cell anemia is an inherited red blood cell disorder in which there are not enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen throughout your body.
Signs and symptoms of sickle cell anemia usually appear around 5 months of age. They vary from person to person and change over time. Signs and symptoms can include:
- Anemia. Sickle cells break apart easily and die, leaving you with too few red blood cells.
- Episodes of pain. Periodic episodes of pain, called pain crises, are
a major symptom of sickle cell anemia.
- Some adolescents and adults with sickle cell anemia also have
chronic pain, which can result from bone and joint damage,
ulcers, and other causes.
- Swelling of hands and feet.
- Frequent infections.
- Vision problems.
SCD is a genetic condition that is present at birth. It is inherited when a child receives two sickle cell genes, one from each parent.
SCD is diagnosed with a simple blood test. It is most often found at birth during routine newborn screening tests at the hospital. In addition, SCD can be diagnosed before birth.
People with SCD start to have signs of the disease during the first year of life, usually around 5 months of age. Stroke, Acute chest syndrome, Pulmonary hypertension, Organ damage and Blindness are some of the possible complications of the disease.
If you carry the sickle cell trait, seeing a genetic counselor before trying to conceive can help you understand your risk of having a child with sickle cell anemia.
Management of sickle cell anemia is usually aimed at avoiding pain episodes, relieving symptoms and preventing complications. Treatments might include medications and blood transfusions. For some children and teenagers, a stem cell transplant might cure the disease. If you have this illness you will need regular visits and checks with your doctor to manage the disease and reduce possible complications.